Reading is proud to have a diverse community of students and staff. Coming from a diverse campus at University of Texas at Dallas, Kiara was able to get involved with activities to celebrate this diversity while a member of the Study Abroad Programme at the University of Reading!
I am racially ambiguous. Being multiracial is a huge part of my identity. It’s kind of hard for it not to be a huge part of who I am, considering it generally means I look different from my peers–regardless of wherever in the world I happen to be. I really do love being multiracial, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Growing up in a multiracial family meant being surrounded by diversity all the time. The older I got, the more I realized that diversity is not always the norm; moreover, diversity is something to be celebrated and appreciated. Diversity is so near and dear to me that it played into my decision to attend my home university, The University of Texas at Dallas. My university has been ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s most diverse campuses. I was so fortunate to become a part a community that values diversity in all forms. For example, administrative departments like the International Center, the Galerstein Gender Center, and the Multicultural Center are a few great resources that schedule many popular student functions throughout the school year. In my second year at UTD, the Multicultural Center founded a student group specifically by multiracial students for multiracial students. After spending a year on this committee, I left to study abroad at the University of Reading.
When I got to campus, I was in awe of how much Reading has to offer their students. There is a student organization for anything you could think of: surfing, quidditch, archery, Bollywood, Disney, and the list goes on and on. I had no idea where to begin! As luck would have it, shortly after I got to campus, I got an email from RUSU’s [Reading University Students’ Union] Diversity Officer. She was promoting Black History Month and a student committee dedicated to celebrating the diversity that exists on campus. I jumped at the opportunity to join the One World Committee!
In the initial interest meeting, we had representation from seven countries. It was incredible to see such a large, diverse turnout, despite the university being primarily white, British students. We began to plan the first event of the school year–an event to showcase how cultures from around the world celebrate winter holidays. The event was scheduled for early December, and I was really excited to see how everything turned out. I’ll be working the welcome booth, but other Reading students from all across the globe were setting up booths to show how they celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and other winter holidays with traditions, clothing, and food. I mean, who doesn’t love cultural learning and free food?
As part of the One World Committee, I also had the opportunity to help design a video campaign to promote One World Committee and its events. I even get to be in the video! The video is still in the works, but keep your eyes out on RUSU’s social media pages for updates!
Even though I am only at Reading for the fall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and work with some great people. I am so happy to have found a community that values diversity and works to promote it. I’ve enjoyed my time working with the One World Committee and I cannot wait to see how it grows and develops (even if it is via social media). One family, one people, one world, one love!
NB: for more information about how diversity is acknowledged and celebrated at the University of Reading, please see https://www.reading.ac.uk/diversity/. For more information about the One World campaign Kiara was involved with, please see https://www.rusu.co.uk/campaigns/2017-18/one-world-reading/.